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THE FRONT BURNER

FLS reporter Katie Thisdell serves up news on local food finds, tales from home cooks and inspiration to help you have fun in your own kitchen.

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Not your mother’s holiday party pointers

As we approach the granddaddy of all food-heavy holidays, and the kickoff to an entire season of eating, I want to take a minute to give you some advice.

I realize that over the past few months in this space I have shared with you recipes for potatoes and kale, quesadillas with more vegetables than cheese and, yes, cheese-free pizza.

Some of you might think this blog should be re-named “The Front Burner–for rabbits.”

I want you to know that there’s a payoff for all this virtuous eating, and it starts now.

I am a big fan of eating with the seasons, and do you know what’s about to be in prime season around here?

Well, it just so happens that in our region right now, the pecan pie trees are about to give forth a bumper crop.

Everything in the bacon fat family has had a great season and should be coming to a buffet or sideboard near you any day now.

Dips and small bites packed with butter, cheese and cream are really coming in nicely.

There are plenty of healthy-ish food writers out there prepping their “how to stick to your diet on the holiday party circuit” pieces.

Here’s my advice: Go to parties and eat.

It takes a lot of work to put out a spread of food for guests. There’s nothing that makes a host happier than watching people enjoy the product of that labor.

But the holiday party circuit is riddled with obstacles that can prevent you and other guests from rescuing the mini meatballs, the cocktail weenies and the lovingly pieced-together smoked salmon tartines from a lonely life in room-temperature purgatory.

So the Front Burner blog is here with situation-specific guidelines to keep you from missing out on some of the best home-cooked food of the year.

Obstacle: You’re worried about blowing your diet.

Obviously, I’m not a doctor, and you probably shouldn’t take medical advice from me, but here’s how I see it:

Come January, all the television air-time that was filled until a couple weeks ago with Obama-Romney nasty-grams will be taken up by ads for NutriSystem and Insanity infomercials full of perky people in spandex.

If you think you feel guilty for eating the good stuff now, just wait. Enjoy the ride while the airwaves are crammed with cheesey Kay Jewelers spots and cars with big red bows on them.

Obstacle: You get stuck in this conversation: “So how IS the (insert industry you work in here) business doing?”

Look, folks, nobody wants to get cornered on this one these days. I suggest you drop this line on them:

“I don’t know what to do. We coasted into town on fumes. The gas money give out in Gurnee.”

Then just keep playing the part of cousin Eddie from “Christmas Vacation” and waddle your way on over to the food table, making sure to get a big sloppy cup of eggnog on your way. Bonus if your dog drinks the Christmas tree water.

Obstacle: You are pregnant and are worried about putting on too much “baby weight.”

Do I need to remind you of the liquid calories you are NOT consuming?

Obstacle: The hard-working host just brought out several trays of steaming-hot, delicious-looking vittles, but everyone standing around is too polite to end their current conversations and dig in.

This probably won’t happen at a party with many young people, but this is where you need to be a leader and provide a public service to others.

Wrap up that conversation you’re having about how early you got up to get a rock-bottom price on your daughter’s Go Go Walking Puppy, drop all pretense of social acceptability and run at top speed after those steaming hot plates.

After all, experience with wind sprints will come in handy when you start the Insanity workouts in January, which you’ll need if you want to fit back into your pre-Thanksgiving jeans.

In all seriousness, folks, I am a big believer in everything in moderation. If you take the time to make reasonable meals full of real ingredients for your household most of the time, a little splurging at the holidays isn’t going to hurt, and it might even help you get back on track once you realize how much better you feel when you put good fuel in your body.

I’m thankful for everyone who reads this blog, and I wish you and your loved ones a very happy Thanksgiving.

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